Opinion: Top 10 reasons these District 8 leaders are voting for Mary Kay Lacey for City Council

She has been a successful attorney, giving her the skill set to balance being be a fierce advocate and a collaborative partner with City Council colleagues.

There has been a distinct lack of leadership on neighborhood issues in District 8 for the last four years, and we are fortunate that a person of Mary Kay’s professional competence and stellar reputation has “stepped up” to be that leader. Here are the top 10 reasons we are voting for Mary Kay Lacey, and we hope you will join us.

  1. Pedestrian Safety and Traffic Mitigation. Mary Kay is keenly aware of the traffic and pedestrian safety concerns that uniquely impact District 8. Living off of one of the main neighborhood arteries for commuter traffic, Mary Kay shares our concern that implementing tangible solutions to improve safety are long over-due.   Mary Kay will advocate for more stop signs, installing pavers to slow traffic on residential streets and improving traffic enforcement in high traffic neighborhoods during high volume hours.
  2. UC Impacts on Neighborhoods District 8 neighborhoods close to the Berkeley campus are also impacted daily by the effect of UC’s increased enrollment of students. Mary Kay does not agree that if UC violates a binding legal obligation that the solution is to expect our neighborhood organizations to file suit against the University. The recent proposed new sand volleyball courts at the Clark Kerr campus offers another example of why District 8 needs a leader who understands the legal framework governing UC Berkeley’s obligations to the community. Mary Kay will be that leader, and will advocate on behalf of our neighborhoods.
  3. Inappropriate development at the Claremont Hotel District 8 neighborhoods in the Claremont Hills and close to Tunnel Road are rightly concerned about the proposed development at the Claremont Hotel, and Mary Kay shares those concerns. Mary Kay will not allow Oakland to unilaterally dictate the scope of this project knowing that the adverse traffic, safety and infra-structure issues will be borne by District 8 residents. Filling a leadership void in our current Council, Mary Kay stepped up to secure a meeting between the Save Our Claremont organization and the Oakland Planning Department. We need Mary Kay’s leadership to ensure that Berkeley is involved in the planning of this project now — not after the fact when it is too late for meaningful participation.
  4. Saving Alta Bates The California Nurses Association (CNA) has endorsed Mary Kay because they recognize that District 8 needs a leader with the skill set, legal acumen and tenacity to put pressure on Sutter Health to “save the hospital or sell it.” Mary Kay’s vision is to create a “joint powers” between the affected cities on the I-80 corridor (including Richmond, El Cerrito, Albany and Berkeley) and to exert governmental pressure — through zoning and eminent domain — to ensure our communities’ public health needs are prioritized over Sutter’s profit-driven consolidation. The nurses are on the front line of this battle, and we whole-heartedly agree with their endorsement of Mary Kay to lead our city in this fight.
  5. Supporting our workers. CNA is joined by other major unions in Berkeley endorsing Mary Kay. SEIU 1021 and the Alameda Labor Council (AFL-CIO), know that District 8 needs a leader who will stand with workers on minimum wage, and living wage and benefit issues. In a recent op-ed in Berkeleyside, here is what labor unions had to say about why they endorse Mary Kay: “From the perspective of minimum wage workers’ and their advocates, Lori Droste was not an ally in the process [to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour] and she is still standing in the way.” We agree.
  6. Better city planning Mary Kay’s legal background in land use and her work on the planning commission give her valuable insight into the importance of “planning” development in Berkeley. As we prioritize transit-oriented development, we trust Mary Kay to ask the difficult questions necessary to ensure we have the infra-structure necessary to support our increased population. With BART currently operating at maximum capacity, how will our transit accommodate more riders, how will we move more residents through already congested neighborhood streets, how many more students will fill our elementary and secondary classrooms? These are not academic questions, and we need the practical problem-solving professionalism Mary Kay will bring to Council to address these issues.
  7. Affordable Housing Mary Kay will also focus on prioritizing and funding affordable housing. There is no candidate running for council in Berkeley who does not support increasing housing, and in particular, transit-based housing. But unlike candidates who have received donations from developers, Mary Kay does not consider it the job of a City Councilmember to make sure developers make money. As Mary Kay has repeatedly said, as a councilwoman she will make sure the community receives benefits commensurate with the “upzoning” developers receive in building market rate housing.
  8. Addressing Homelessness Mary Kay fully supported the recently enacted Pathways Project from the outset, and we support Mary Kay because of her unwavering commitment to addressing the crisis of homelessness through transitional housing. We agree with Mary Kay that the status quo of providing shelters at night with people on the street during the day is not moving forward to resolve the crisis. Mary Kay will join leaders on the council who are rolling up their sleeves and working hard to meaningful address homelessness. In other words, Mary Kay will not simply critique someone else’s plan, she will boldly envision her own, and then will work tirelessly to implement it.
  9. Mary Kay has raised two daughters in Berkeley. In every encounter we have had with Mary Kay, we have found her to be thoughtful, engaged and passionate about improving the lives or our residents on issues big and small. As a parent of two young adult daughters who grew up in Berkeley and graduated from Berkeley High, Mary Kay has experienced the challenges faced by parents of children of all ages, from pre-school through high school. And having lived in Berkeley for virtually her entire adult life, we know that Mary Kay’s motivation to lead our city comes from a true passion to give back to a community she loves. Mary Kay has had a successful career. She is running for council for us, not to advance herself.
  10. Fierce advocate and collaborative partner. Mary Kay’s professional experience as a successful attorney in a demanding legal practice for almost 30 years has given her the skill set to balance being be a fierce advocate and a collaborative partner with her City Council colleagues. Please join us in electing a pragmatic, thoughtful, and caring leader to represent District 8. And, once elected, we know where we will find Mary Kay — she will be at City Hall working hard every day.

Andy Johnson is the president of the Bateman Neighborhood Association, Josh Sperry is the treasurer and Robert Hamilton is a board member. Jacquelyn McCormick is the former president and current board member of the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association and Phil Bokovoy is a board member. Joan Barnett is the president of the Dwight/Hillside Neighborhood Association.